Hypostatic what? Does Jesus have a soul?

A several weeks back a friend asked an insightful question at a study group, “Does Jesus have a soul?” Several blank stares ensued, myself included, around the table as the matter was processed and pondered. I have never heard the question phrased like that. A simple, direct and straightforward inquiry. I remember we all glanced around looking at each other. “Well, does he?”

Several days later I was driving through the Seattle downtown traffic. I was in the middle of a long day when the answer to the question hit me. I wasn’t particularly thinking about the question. The drive was backed up with traffic, I was hungry, and I was bored with my remaining work. In a very abrupt way the answer pressed on me hard. I’ve felt this pressure before. Maybe you have experienced it. It’s when the Holy Spirit wants me to know something, and know it well. Many years ago, this urging scared me. I didn’t understand it and many times I never heard it. Now I embrace it, relishing in the love and grace God has for his children.

Here is the reasoning that almost knocked me off the road.
• We are created by God in the likeness of God. “So God created mankind in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27)
• We know we have a body and soul. A ‘substance dualism’, if you will, of a “physical body and immaterial, invisible thing that makes (us) a conscious living human being”1
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
• If Jesus does not have a soul, he is not fully human.
• If Jesus is not fully human, he cannot act has the propitiation for our sins.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)
• Therefore, yes. Jesus must have a soul, just like ours because Jesus is Fully God and Fully Man. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
What we basically could not articulate quickly as a group was the incarnation of Christ, outlined in verses; John 1:14, 1:1, 20:28, Luke 2:11, and John 8:58.
I drove to my destination very quietly after this. I repented of not remembering all the Lord completed for me. How could I have not put two and two together? That is the big ticket. Without the incarnation, why do we gather, why do we serve, why do we give? The guys in our study group are cool and all but we could go hang in a bar, skip the books and not worry about the heavy stuff.

So, I dug into my wonderful books to study on the topic of the “hypostatic union”. What are these two natures?
“Early church figures such as Athanasius used the term “hypostatic union” to describe the teaching that these two distinct natures (divine and human) co-existed substantively and in reality in the single person of Jesus Christ…” The full humanity of Christ is displayed in that he experienced all human weakness and limitations of having a human body, mind and soul, and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16). “Jesus’ full humanity enables him to accomplish our obedience (Romans 5:18-19) and be a substitute sacrifice for us (1 Tim 2:5).” The deity of Christ was necessary because only someone who is infinite can bear the penalty for sins (Luke 2:11).

So, why do I write this now? A few reasons.
1. I love Christ and I don’t want to miss any critical parts of his revealed revelation to us. Especially when it comes to my right standing with the Father.
2. I love my Brothers and this simple question provided the groundwork for a deeper understanding of Christ. We can’t afford to roll around in the heresy of Apollinarianism. That was refuted 451 AD, but that is a writing for another time. And finally, we can’t afford to miss any opportunity to know Christ better and rejoice in what he has done for us, but we will. We are imperfect, but we strive to know our Lord better.
3. I’m partial crazy and where I have been studying graduate level finance all day, with a brief break for purchasing fireworks, placing my mind on our Lord eases me. It rests my soul and I thank Him for that.

#Merica! Brexit 2017

 

 

  1. Moreland, James Porter, and Dallas Willard. Love Your God with All Your Mind. 1st ed. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 1997. Print.
  2. Grudem, W. (1994). ‘Systematic Theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine’ (6th ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530: Zondervan.
  3. Two natures of Jesus | Theopedia. (2017). Theopedia.com. Retrieved 3 July 2017, from https://www.theopedia.com/hypostatic-union
  4. Picture Credit- Cat, P., Cat, P., & profile, V. (2006). Hypostatic Union of Christ: The Black and Tan. Aliveandyoung.net. Retrieved 4 July 2017, from http://www.aliveandyoung.net/2006/10/hypostatic-union-of-christ-black-and.html

Tell me why they had to die?

Tell me why that person had to die? I prayed… Why do you permit the wiping out of individuals in tragedy after tragedy without seemingly a thought or concern? Why don’t you intervene, to remove evil, to stop the hurt, to save us from… ourselves?

If God is all-powerful, then removing all evil would certainly be within his power.

God created this world in which the problem of evil is possible. (Gen 1:1) Although, it was not his intention that we participate in it. Man, created the problem of sin and wickedness at the fall. Humanity choose to separate itself from God’s design. Adam exercised his free will by choosing to deny our creator’s direct command and consumed the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:6-7) Free will is a gift. It allows us to freely choose between good and evil, right and wrong. It enables us to desire grace to work in our lives or to deny the allowance of his mercy. To unreservedly love someone is to give them the ability to choose. The choice to leave, to stay, and this opens the possibility them not returning the love you have extended to them. A suitable reason to allow evil to persist could possibility be the allowance of the liberty to choose God, but at that point the entrance is left open for wickedness and strife to enter. Thus, if God used his power to remove all evil, then the freedom of choice is removed likewise.

If God is all-loving and completely good, God must desire to protect his children from harm that may come to them.

Consider the possibility that the choice to permit suffering and distress provides growth and strength in God. (Romans 5:3) Written in his book, ‘Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths’, Alister McGrath maintained, “How do we know that there cannot be morally sufficient reasons for God permitting suffering?” (McGrath, A. 1993) One known character attribute of God is that he is all-loving. With that assurance, we can assume that God is restraining and deterring evil in this world. (John 17:15) God is inhibiting wickedness until his overall redemptive strategy is achieved. This permits all who will come to know Jesus Christ time to place their faith in him. (Gal 3:22) To have an all-know and all-loving God intervene during times of great evil would diminish the reason for sending his son to bear the suffering of this life for us. There is no pain, death, murder, evil, or hate in heaven. (Matthew 16:19) Absolutely, God could make it trouble-free to gain the assurance of heaven, but at what cost? The cost was his Son, and at his suffering on the cross, the admission was paid. To maroon his children in the precarious position of a spoiled child, waiting for the great protection of a parent would render us incapable to freely choose God’s forgiveness and grace he provided in Christ. (Romans 8:18)

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

If God is all-knowing, he knows the wicked plans Satan will initiate.

Humanity is broken, narcissistic, self-seeking and cannot justly determine the level of pain or evil at which point God should intercede. (Romans 2:6) Would murder be the precipitating evil? How many murders must occur prior to intervention? If not murder, what about natural misfortunes that are not initiated by man? If we maintain earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters that appear to our finite minds to unnecessarily take human life as sufficiently wrong, humanity cannot rightly conclude as to what level of disaster should or should not be restrained. We have no visibility to the destination of the intended purposes. (Psalms 121:7) The human intellect is limited. It is not in the position to make decisions as all life is considered sacred. (John 1:4) The wisdom of an omniscience God is required to make these judgements. (Proverbs 1:7)
An all-knowing God will stop evil, but to do so would require the end of this creation as we comprehend the world now. No one knows “the day or hour” of the end, we are told twice in the gospel of Matthew and once in the gospel of Mark. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) God does intervene against all forms and methods of evil and when doing so carries out his intentions, for his creation. To predict when God should or should not intervene places us in the untenable position of God’s equivalent. Equal positioning between God and humanity does not increase the status of humankind, but serves to decrease the status of a perfect, all loving, all knowing God. By doing this, he then ceases to be God. We need God to remain fully displaying his knowledge and wisdom; and man, ought to desire God to continue in this unspoiled glory.

What does this mean for me? It means there is hope…

The pain and anguish of this world hurts, but there is hope. This optimism comes in Christ, sent by God to intervene into our pain, trials and suffering. Answers as to why someone had commit suicide, a marriage failed, or an ailing loved one was gone too soon are genuine questions with very real pain attached to them. Nevertheless, I urge you to plead with the Lord to intervene, for all wickedness and sufferings to end, and your grief to subside. (Romans 12:15) God is magnificent enough to shoulder the burden. Place your reliance for security in this life that there is hope. Hope in the one who was sent to bear the evil and sin of this world, Christ Jesus.

55 “Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55)

It is God’s desire to end all death and wickedness for the last time. For that reason, Jesus died on the cross for this very purpose; to put an end to all iniquity. Directing your attention to the cross is to precisely position your faith and expectant optimism exactly where it should be.

“4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)

1. McGrath, A. (1993). Intellectual Barriers to Faith. In Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths: Building bridges to faith through apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House.

2. Inserted Image- Credit: Unknown

A Parent’s Guide to Discussing Easter

jesus_cross_death_giotto_di_bondone-423x388

“When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.” (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis)

Drive-by parenting can be a remarkable tactic. Life is busy and families move fast. At what seems as the most inconvenient time, we see an opening to ask our child a question, whether sitting at the breakfast table or digging through the laundry. If you have their attention, if just for a moment, you have an opening. If the opportunity is not seized, it could be lost forever. This happened to me several months ago with my 13 year old son. What follows is a true story…

Me: “Hey, have any of your classes discussed evolution yet?

Son: “Huh? Uh, no, I don’t think so?’

Me: “Really, Nothing? Maybe they’re calling it something else like, Darwinism?

Son: “Yea, I guess. I think my science teacher spoke about that awhile back”

Me: (Internal thought) Bingo!

Me: “So, you’re in youth at the church, what did you think when the Teacher was instructing something different than what the Bible teaches?”

Son: (Slowing opening up) “Well, I’m not sure. I don’t know what to think. I want to believe the Bible, but the evolution stuff sounds like it works”

Me: “So, what is your take on which one sounds right?”

Son: “Well, I think God did create man, animals and stuff, and then He let evolution do the rest.”

Me: “Interesting. It’s great that you’re thinking about it and trying to make sense of it. You know, scientists have debated these theories for years. Let me provide you with this idea, if God left his creation alone and used evolution to make what we see in the world today, then that would mean God doesn’t interact with us and is impersonal. You think that is true?”

Son: “No. That doesn’t make any sense”

Me: “I don’t think so either. If God were not personal, whom would we be praying to then? Since God is personal and holy, He sent Jesus on our behalf as the perfect atonement for our sin. This justifies us into right standing before God and reconciles us to Him. That doesn’t seem like God wants to let the world operate without Him involved. It sounds like God wants to be engaged in our lives and have a relationship with us.”

Son: “Yea, I guess so. Cool.”

Our foremost responsibility as parents is to teach, guide and nurture our children. Therefore, at Easter, assisting them with the incredible events of Jesus crucifixion, resurrection and saving redemption for humankind is a responsibility we cannot take lightly. In the situation described above, culture was providing the framework that would have guided my child’s faith for possibly the rest of his life! I am thankful for that morning. I took the time to find out if my child needed assistance in reconciling conflicting information about Jesus, the Bible and the world we live in. The Acts 19 Apologetics Ministry encourages you do the same.

As we enter the Easter season, family, friends and especially our children will have questions about Jesus, the Christian faith, and how this relates to our traditions of celebration. The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6; “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Answering the questions of why we believe what we believe demonstrates to others there are solid foundations to the Christian faith.

In as little as 30 minutes, this outline will assist you in framing this essential conversation talking about Jesus, the love He has for us and providing parental leadership to your family as a reflection of that love.

The Acts 19 Apologetics Ministry provides this guide as a means to encourage you to seize this chance to speak truth and love into your children.

Will you join us in completing this worthwhile task?

“3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Talking to your family about Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Step 1: Set the Theme:

• The celebration of Easter is a season to celebrate the resurrection three days after our Saviors death on the cross at Calvary.

Step 2: Read Bible scriptures aloud:

*Consider having others in your family read the passages.*

• Crucifixion prophecies fulfilled from Old Testament in Isaiah 53:3-12 and New Testament Mark 15:21-32, John 19:17-27.

• Burial of Jesus- Mark 15:42-47 and John 19:38-42

• Empty tomb- Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-9

• Jesus’ resurrection- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and 15:14

• Appearances of Jesus- John 20:10-30

• Faith in Jesus- Romans 4:25 and 10:9 and Acts 4:10.

Step 3: Address the points of discussion.

1. First main point– Easter is a celebration of Jesus Christ! Our Savior’s death accomplished; atonement of humanity’s sinful actions, conquered death, defeated evil and provided the absolute example of sacrificial love with His resurrection!

• Jesus’ crucifixion was predicted in Isaiah 53.3, “5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

• Jesus Christ was crucified, was buried in a known tomb sealed by the Roman government, and protected by Roman guards. The tomb in which Jesus body was placed, was found empty three days later. Jesus sat with, spoke too, and ate with his disciples and appeared to hundreds of people after his resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:3)

• Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, overcoming our separation from God. Jesus’ crucifixion had to occur for us to be justified, or declared righteous before God. (Galatians 2:16) The crucifixion is God’s gift to His creation, which He loves. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

• It was necessary for Jesus to be crucified on the cross, as an outpouring of God’s love for his children. God wants to be with His children who believe and trust in Him! Jesus loves you! (1 Peter 2:24)

• Jesus Christ’s victory over death and evil is God’s way of providing us the ultimate indication that He alone is in control of the world! With the exception of God, no one in the past, present or future will accomplish the incredible feat of denying mortality! (Romans 6:6-8, 4:25, 5:19)

2. Second main point– Easter is not about hiding eggs; it is about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

• Some people believe that Easter is only a celebration of the spring season. When considered this way, it empties the resurrection of its real meaning.

• We affirm that Easter is not all about chocolate bunnies or even family gatherings, but remembering Jesus, His death and resurrection and the love our Lord has for us. (John 3:16-17)

• It is OK for our family to celebrate modern Easter traditions of Easter egg hunting, the Easter bunny, and family gatherings. We should do these things! They are fun, and spending time together as a brothers and sisters in Christ worships the Lord!

3. Third main point– The life of Jesus and the reality of His resurrection changes everything:

• When you have bad days, when something terrible happens to you, a friend or your family, we may not always know why, but we do know that God has a reason, and He alone is in control. No matter how messed up life can be, Jesus loves you! We should take comfort in placing our trust in the Creator of the universe. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

• Jesus teachings, death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven and to the sit on the throne with God are the ultimate realizations of forgiveness. (Acts 1:9-11, Matthew 19:28) As followers of Christ Jesus, we are to have the same compassion, grace, humility, and love towards people who may or may not treat us nicely. By doing this, we strive to continue the mission of Jesus until His return to correct all the evils in this world and make them right forever! (Matthew 28:19-20)

4. Conclusion:

• The Resurrection is the reconciliation of humanity’s wickedness, the defeat of evil, the conquering of death, and the ultimate example of love. All occurred with the resurrection of Jesus Christ’s on the cross! (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

• Easter is a time of year for celebrating new beginnings, spending time with family, and remembering the ultimate sacrificial gift Jesus provided for us. (1 John 2:2, 4:10 and Romans 3:25)

• We can take comfort in placing our trust in the Creator of the universe. (Genesis 1:1-31)

• Our God, in His infinite being, is in control of the world! (Ephesians 6:12)

• Jesus will return to correct all evils, wrongdoings, insults and injustices in this world and make them right forever! (Revelations 19:16)

The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics By Dr. Greg Bahnsen

Great read!

The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics By Dr. Greg Bahnsen

Source: The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics By Dr. Greg Bahnsen

J. I. Packer: In His Own Words | Crossway

Wisdom. Well worth the time spent to watch these short videos.

Packer_imagesSource: J. I. Packer: In His Own Words | Crossway

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://hopefaithprayer.com/salvationnew/divine-sovereignty-and-human-responsibility-j-i-packer/

Seeker Series, Why? Does God allow evil?

quote anselm

Why does God allow an obliteration of people in a natural disaster without seemingly a thought or concern? Why God doesn’t just remove Satan and his evil schemes that he executes in this world? If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), this task would certainly be within his power. If God is all-knowing (omniscience), he knows the evil processes Satan will instigate. If God is all-loving and completely good, God should want to protect his children from any harm that may come to them.

 
• Evil is at work in this world, but not in the next.

 
God created the world in which the difficulty of evil/sin is possible, but it was not in his design that we participate in it. Man created the problem of sin and brokenness at the first fall of Adam. Adam exercised his free will by choosing to deny our creator’s direct command and ate the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:6-7) Written in his book, Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths, Alister McGrath maintained, “How do they (we) know that there cannot be morally sufficient reasons for God permitting suffering?” Consider the possibility that to “die” from this life and go to heaven is not punishment. Philippians 1:21 reveals, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”, therefore, gaining entrance into a heaven with overwhelming joy, happiness, and love. Do we as finite humans, with limited knowledge, have a capacity to judge if evil that has occurred is not allowed by God for sufficient reasons unknown to us? It is within boundaries of God’s known character attributes that he is all-loving. With that assurance we can assume that God is restraining evil in this world. God is inhibiting wickedness until his overall redemptive strategy is achieved. This permits all who will come to know Jesus Christ time to place their faith in him.

 
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:23–24)

 
One would assume that God could stop evil, but to do so would require the end of this world. No one knows “the day or hour” of the end as we are told twice in the gospel of Matthew and once in the gospel of Mark. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) To have an all-knowing God intervene during times of great evil would diminish the reason for sending his son to bear the suffering of this life for us. There is no pain, murder, evil, hate or anything not perfect in heaven. Yes, God could make it trouble-free to gain the promised reward heaven, but at what cost? The cost was his Son, and at his suffering, the admission price was paid. To maroon his children in the precarious position of an opulent spoiled child, waiting for the great protection of a parent would lead us to be unable to freely choose God’s forgiveness and grace He provided in Jesus.

 
Man, a broken self-deprecating individual could not justly determine the level of pain or evil at which point God should intercede. Would murder be the precipitating evil? How many murders must occur prior to intervention? Should the count be taken into consideration, the murder of one or the murder of 100 or more? If the needless killing is of someone who has lived a long fulfilling life, then is this considered a “needless death”? Does the death of a young child hold more weight within the balance of judgment of evil? Man’s finite mind is in no position to make decisions such as these, as all life is considered sacred. If not murder, what about natural evils that are not initiated by man? If we pronounce floods, tsunamis and other natural disasters that appear to our finite minds to needlessly take life as sufficiently wrong humanity cannot rightly conclude as to what level of disaster should or should not be contained as we have no visibility to the destination of the intended purposes.

 
God can and does intercede against all forms and methods of evil and when doing so carries out His design for His creation. We are not God, so to second-guess when God should or should not step in places us as God’s equal. Equal footing between God and man does not increase the status of man, but serves to decrease the status of a perfect, all loving, all knowing God. By doing this, He then ceases to be God. We need God to be God; man needs God in all his impeccable glory.

 
• So God restrains evil in this world, what does this mean for me?

 
Shake your fists, yell, scream and stomp your feet at God, and plead with Him to intervene for all wickedness and earthly sufferings. God is great enough to shoulder the burden. Place your reliance for security in this life in one who was sent to bear the evil and sin of this world, Christ Jesus. If it is God’s will to stop the evil for the last time he will do so. Directing your attention to Him is to correctly place your faith and expectant optimism exactly where it should be.

 
“4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)

 
McGrath, A. (1993). Intellectual Barriers to Faith. In Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths: Building bridges to faith through apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 21:4, Mark 13:32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The New International Version. (2011). (1 Pe 2:23–24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Seeker Series: Why? I will continue to judge… (And you will too)

quote anselm

Events of the past week were disheartening. Many in our society watched in dismay as the unthinkable became a reality and a new law of the land. Many thought it would never come to this. Some thought the battle was lost long ago and this day was inevitable. Personally I watched in shock and amazement as the battle shifted to social media. Dividing lines were drawn, statements proclaimed. Each claiming their “moral high ground” as masses watched and condemned or applauded the proclamation. Many pronounced the “who am I to judge position” or the “#LoveWins in the end” position. As this unfolded, I question where we are as church, universally speaking. Are we really fulfilling the great commission? Is this what the prescriptive commands in the Bible are to have us do?
As a universal Christian church we have lost our ability to provide a witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ by relinquishing the ability to properly evaluate society and/or a person’s actions or beliefs.
• You shouldn’t judge!
Many take the Bible passage in Matthew 7:1 of “Judge not, that you will be judged” and stop there. The prohibition is not to judge others in the same way as the, “Pharisees, who were very rigid and severe, very magisterial and supercilious, in condemning all about them, as those commonly are, that are proud and conceited in justifying themselves.” (Henry, M. 1994) Unfortunately, this first century exegesis of the Biblical text fails to carry over to a modern context very well. We are considering this passage in the 21st century context. There are no Pharisees currently around, but many still attempt to act as they did 2000 years ago. This line of thought from Jesus is cautioning us against judging hypocritically, uncharitably, unmercifully, with a spirit of revenge, and a desire to do damage. We should however, “Counsel him, and help him, but do not judge him.” (Henry, M. 1994)
Nonetheless, the statement of “You shouldn’t judge!” needs to be addressed. Do people judge other actions, items or people? Yes, and it is absurd to think that we do not do this waking moment of every day! A “You shouldn’t judge!” assertion is a self-refuting statement. A self-refuting statement is defined; “a statement is one that fails to meet its own standard, as another example, “I cannot speak a word in English.” We have to judge in order to function. We judge our behavior, others behavior, thoughts, what they value, and what they believe as determination of what coincides with reality. The “You shouldn’t judge!” statement is a judgment! It makes a claim to know truth. A value proposition of what is right and what is wrong.
For the sake of argument, let’s investigate what the Bible provides as a prescriptive command not to judge. John the Baptist in Matthew 3:7 told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” I ask you this, how did John know the Pharisees and Sadducees were a “brood of vipers”? John formulated a judgment of their actions and behaviors and called them into repentance! Other example is Paul speaking in Athens in Acts 17. Paul is rendering a judgment against their culture of idols that they worship.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:22-25)
The Apostle Paul and John the Baptizer, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, made a judgment claims against a society, a culture, and groups. They attempted to show them the inaccuracies of their worldviews that would not lead them to repentance and righteousness before the one true God. As people of the 21st century, and as Christians, we are called to do the same. By pointing to the one true God, the one God who sent his Son so we may have redemption when placing our trust in him.
• Can we fulfill the mission?
The recent political decisions are not the end of the world. We should remind each other that the Christian faith has rarely been in the advantageous position in either culture or the political realms in the past 2000 years. This is but another small step to removing the coherent truth claims of the gospel message from the public square of ideas. What are we to do?
While many stimulating sermon messages this past weekend were crafted and conveyed, many used the “love wins in the end” perspective. Twitter hashtags created the #LoveWins message further creating a buzz of anticipation in the social media realm. Both sides of the argument claimed “love” and rainbows with an exciting splash of colors permeated all corners of the internet. While this made everyone feel really good. Happy colors have a way of uplifting a person’s philological state. (Basic commercial marketing 101) It accomplished nothing in the way of constructive dialog about the issues our culture faces.
#LoveWins alienates both sides from the issue at hand. Both are claiming to be “loving” faction. From the Christian perspective, love does NOT win, love HAS ALREADY won. Love won at the cross of Calvary when Jesus was crucified for us. All of us, nasty, gross, deplorable, self-serving sinners benefited from God’s redemptive action in his creation. Jesus was sent as a sign of God’s claim on his creation providing pathway to him as a substitutionary atonement that diverts God’s wrath. Yes, wrath! You cannot have love without hate. An example is; if you love children, you hate child abuse. You cannot have one without the other. It follows then, if God loves his people, created in the likeness of himself, there will be a natural hate of sin because of his love for us. In some aspects, the universal church has minimized this attribute of God. God will not be mocked and there is a wrath of God coming for those who make the willing choice not to follow him. Additionally, a #Lovewins mantra fails to address the full totality of the problem. A biblical love is “sacrificial, efficacious, and seeks what is right (1 Corinthians 13) and it cannot intersect with sin.” Yes, love your neighbor, but no, I do not have to affirm or condone sinful behavior. It would be the same if; I in my sinful nature was having an inappropriate relationship with my neighbor’s wife. You, as my other neighbor knew this was taking place. At this point you’re forced to make a judgment. Is this right or is it wrong? Remember, for those who may wish to walk the fence on this, you receive no free pass. No judgment of right or wrong is really a judgment. A non-decision is really a decision stated in the words you do not speak. Sexual sin is sin and it is wrong.
Speaking to my own community of faith, our leadership provided a message that was thoughtful and timely regarding our current cultural state. Outlined in the message were points to consider about Satan’s actions in God’s creation. To follow along with those points made, I wish to go one step further. How do we look to ourselves and make our lives a consistent Christian witness?
1. Stop the defeatist Christian naval gazing!
Collectively more time is spent watching television, posting pictures of stupidity on social media (guilty!) and faking a coherent Christian worldview then actually engaging in a discussion about problems of the heart (read, sinful nature) we all have. Your children, your car, your job, even you spouse are not god, but in some cases, we have made them one. The one true God should be your God, and if you really proclaim him as Christ and Lord of all, then do the difficult work and open your Bible and learn something about him!
2. Engage in learning!
Learn about the issues and how to develop a Christian worldview. Read a book. Not just any book, but a book that discusses the historical positons of the Christian church. Something written by a pillar of the Christian faith (Wesley, Calvin, or Luther) or by a highly educated scholar and the book was critically reviewed by their peers. Any new-age semi-Christian spiritual garbage written by a “popular” pastor, who ignores the basic tenets of the Christian faith, is rubbish.
3. Connect with a Growth Group and get in the game!
The modern church so adores the doctrines of Justification and Adoption, but barely utters anything about the doctrines of Sanctification and Perseverance. (If you don’t know what those words mean, you just proved my point.) Learn the doctrines of the Christian faith and learn how to teach them to your family and defend them in the public square of ideas.
• In conclusion…
Stop looking at the left or right political party to save you. Learn everything you can about the one true Savior of the world. He alone is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev 19:16) God is sovereign over all, but we have a role to play in his Kingdom.
I end this post with an open invitation to the members of my community of faith. If you disagree with me, then engage me. You can go sulk in the corner and talk about how the “guy who writes about God” spoke harshly or you can connect with me on the City and we will open the scriptures, examine what the word says, figure how to apply it and defend it.
If we can’t even create disciples among ourselves, then how can we expect to be salt and light to a broken world that desperately needs to hear the message…
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matthew 5:13)

 

 

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1643). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Seeker Series, Why? How do we know Jesus rose from the dead?

quote anselm

The foundation of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the cornerstone of the faith.  Without the resurrection Christianity is a social club gathering on Sunday mornings to discuss steps to a better marriage, job, or other life skill. Christianity is something more, something deeper than a 12 step program to improved living.

The resurrection is about humankind and sin. You might be thinking, “hold on, I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anyone or robbed a convenience store” Unfortunately comparing yourself to your neighbor, Hitler or Mother Theresa is not the standard.  The standard should be someone who is perfect, flawless and never sinned. Perhaps that is someone who was raised from the dead. That is the standard. It’s about an unwavering standard that does not change, forever.

  • How do we know the resurrection happened?

Jesus Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate and the disciples of Jesus maintained to have seen risen appearances Him, and that forever altered the course of their lives. New Testament scholars that are both Christian and secular agree on some facts of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We will briefly outline the top three details that a majority of scholars agree on.

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.

In addition to the Bible, other writings are available that document that Jesus was killed by crucifixion. Evidence from Tacitus (55-115 AD), a Roman historian wrote about Jesus in The Annals, XV: 44.  Along with Josephus (37- 100 AD) referred to Jesus and his death in his writings called the Antiquities. Josephus testifies, “About the same time there lived Jesus, a wise man for he was a performer of marvelous feats and a teacher of such men who received the truth with pleasure.  He attracted many Jews and many Greeks.  He was the Christ.  When Pilate sentenced him to die on the cross, having been urged to do so by the noblest of our citizens; but those who loved him at the first did not give up their affection for him.  And the tribe of the Christians, who are named after him, have not disappeared to this day.”

These writings from outside the Bible confirm much of what the Bible says about Jesus. The manner of the way Jesus lived and died was unique. It also asserts he performed “marvelous feats” and He had many followers. With this fact confirmed both inside the Bible and outside using other historical writers it is safe to say that Jesus Christ lived, performed some type of awe-inspiring acts, had many believers, and was killed by crucifixion.

  1. The disciples believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them.

“14 afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

The Gospel of Mark is one of the earliest gospel writings to resurrection (33 A.D) of Jesus Christ and this verse is a reliable and accurate account of what the disciples believed happened. The appearance of a risen Jesus is a life altering event. Imagine you were sitting around the dining room table and a friend that had passed away appeared and started talking to you, you would remember this event! The disciples truly believed they had witnessed him, they had to tell people and they were willing to die to spread the message of Jesus Christ. People are not willing to die for a something they know is not true. You may be thinking, “What about the people who committed the acts of terror on September 11th 2001?” The distinction is between knowing something is a lie and dying for it, and believing something is a lie and dying for it. Best articulated by Dr. Gary Habermas PhD, of Philosophy, Liberty University, “Liars do not make martyrs.” The disciples would have known the resurrection appearances Jesus were a lie if the resurrection account was made up. Why would they be willing to die for a fabricated lie? By comparison, the September 11th terrorists did not know their ideology to fly airplanes in to buildings was/is a lie. They believed it, and were willing to die for an incorrect belief.

“19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

  1. Paul, a persecutor of the early church was converted when he believed to have seen the risen Christ.

Imagine Paul’s clear recollections of the day that changed his life dramatically. In an instant, he went from an eradicator of followers of Jesus Christ to one of the greatest champions of the Christian faith.

How did Paul know what occurred at the resurrection? Because he received it directly from the eye-witness accounts from the Apostles who were there. (Galatians 2:1-21) The apostle Paul took this confirmed and trustworthy information and wrote 1 Corinthians 15 somewhere between 54-57AD. At most Paul’s letter to the Corinth was authored 27 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, again a very early account by historical standards so that verse was written incredibly close to the event. You may remember that the writings of Plato were 1200 years after the events documented. So 27 years removed is credible for documenting what occurred during a specific time period.

Consider this; do you remember where you were when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after launch? Challenger’s last flight was January 28th, 1986.  It has been almost 30 years since crisp winter day, back dropped against a clear blue sky. I can remember exactly where I was. I was sitting in a high school auditorium watching the history event on television. At the time I didn’t know that this brief moment in time would be burned into my memory, so clearly that I can recall the hush and shock that came over my classmates. The feeling of joy brought on by being out of my regular class schedule rushed from me as the white smoke trails from the rocket boosters fell from the sky. The day of September 11th, 2001 has the same effect. Life altering incidents transform someone. It formulates memories, beliefs and opinions on how we view and interpret the world for years to come.

  • If Jesus rose from the dead, what does this mean for me?

The resurrection confirmed by Biblical narrative from eye-witness accounts, early historical writings from first century authors, and facts agreed upon by both Secular and Christian New Testament scholars, formulates the Christians belief today that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This means that God cares for you so much that He has provided a way for you to be reconciled from your sin by believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are not lost. You have been found and a miracle has been provided to you so you can believe. You can continue to doubt and wrestle with hard questions.  That is natural and expected, but you have to look honestly at the historical evidence and come to your own conclusion. Keep seeking and asking questions the answers will come.

“12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:12-14)

 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mk 16:14, 1 Cor 15:12-14, Jn 20;19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.,